Stephen Speicher

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)

Rate this TV show   20 votes

  1. 1. Rate this TV show

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      4
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      3
    • 7
      0
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      1
    • 5
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    • 2
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18 posts in this topic

I really don't have time to give a full appraisal of this show. I'll try to hit just a few highlights.

This series is my ALL-TIME #1 FAVORITE, and probably always will be!

It even beats out classics like "Mission: Impossible."

STRENGTHS:

multiple strong heroines (psychologically strong), most notably Buffy and her brainy sidekick Willow (whom I love);

magnificent writing -- witty, apt, daring, unexpected, focused;

strong emphasis on moral choice and conflict of values -- Romantic writing at its best!

e.g. the most sadistic vampire ever to live--Angel--is cursed with a soul. Can he ever atone?

Spike, once pure evil, gets a computer chip in his head--and slowly begins to change. Could he ever become a good man?

after a thousand years as a vengeance demon, can Anya now learn loyalty ... and even love?

THE STORY ARCS:

Season 1: Buffy reluctantly faces her fate as The Slayer--going up against the world's oldest vampire, The Master. An infallible prophecy says she wil die fighting him.

Season 2: Buffy falls in love with Angel -- a vampire cursed with a soul. When he loses his soul, she has to fight him to the death--forced to choose between his life, and the fate of the world. Thrilling swordfight. Magnificent climax!

Season 3: Graduation. Buffy becomes self-confident enough to defy even the Watchers' Council; while the mayor plans to become a giant demon and destroy the entire city. Complication: Faith, a rogue slayer - "I can't imagine anything more dangerous," says Giles, Buffy's Watcher.

Season 4: Buffy, at college, learns of The Initiative: an enormous subterranean military complex designed to harness the demons and vampires ... until things go unexpectedly awry. In the end, Buffy has to take on what the entire army can't handle.

Season 5: Buffy suddenly has a 14 year old sister! Where did she come from? Is she real? Is she good, or evil? And who is Glory--the seemingly unstoppable woman from another dimension, hunting for the Key? The Key to what? If Buffy has to decide between her sister's life and the fate of the universe--which will she choose?

Season 6: Buffy fights a trio of geeks. Willow, under horrible stress, becomes powerful enough to destroy the world--which she now wants to do.

Season 7: Buffy is joined by a team of Slayers-in-training for the ultimate showdown with evil--as the Hellmouth opens.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

Season 1

Giles: "I'm your Watcher. It's my job to prepare you."

Buffy: [defiantly]"Prepare me for what? For losing all my friends? for not being able to tell anyone, because that would put their life in danger? Go ahead! Prepare me for that!"

Season 3

Wesley: "You're turning your back on the Watchers' Council? That's ... rebellion!"

Buffy: "I prefer to think of it as ... graduation."

Season 5

Giles: "If Dawn lives--then every living creature will be drawn into hell, to suffer torment forever."

Buffy: "Then the last thing she'll see, is me fighting to save her."

Buffy: "I'm counting on you to defend her."

Spike: "To the end of the world ... even if that happens to be tonight."

WEAKNESSES:

supernaturalism, with its necessary inconsistencies: most notably, if a demon takes you over when you become a vampire, then how can you be responsible for what it does??

occasional attempts to "humanize" Buffy as unintelligent (strongly contradicted by her actual behavior);

occasional silly subject matter: e.g. the high school swim team turning into fish. But be on the lookout! Virtually every episode features a totally unexpected plot twist!

SUGGESTIONS TO NEW VIEWERS:

Each season builds on the last. Try to start viewing from season 1 or 2. Do not start with seasons 6 or 7 --they are the weakest, the most bizarre, the least inspiring.

I consider Season 2 and Season 5 as absolutely the best.

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I only just discovered Buffy a few weeks ago, and already it is my favorite show (in a tie with another of Joss Whedon's shows, Firefly). I have rented all the DVDs through season two now, and I cannot wait for season three. I advise people to stay away from plot synopses of the show to avoid ruining the many surprises of the plot, but the writing is so great that I broke down in tears at season two's climax even while something about the plot there had already been spoiled for me. And I almost never cry from fiction.

Season one is good, but season two, despite some silly episodes, is the best season of television I have ever seen. My favorite episodes in season two are Innocence, Passion, Lie to Me, and Becoming parts one and two (the finale).

The show's "supernaturalism" has not bothered me yet. For one thing, the show doesn't take it seriously. There is a scene in which the Master stands in an underground church, and the ground all over Sunnydale is shaking. He says, "Yes! YES! Shake, Earth! This is a sign! We are in the final days! My time has come! Glory! GLORY!." The earthquake ends and he says, "Whadaya think? 5.1?" The creator of the show, Joss Whedon, is an atheist and there are hints in his writing that he thinks the supernatural ridiculous.

The show is completely clear (at least thus far): you CANNOT be responsible for your actions if a demon takes over your body. Far from hurting the show, most of the time, this is a huge source of conflict. When the man Buffy loves does horrible things, she knows that it isn't his fault. But that knowledge makes her choice more difficult, in this story.

I definitely think you have to start the show from the beginning and watch every episode in order. Skipping around does not work with Joss Whedon's shows.

I give this show a 10.

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I only just discovered Buffy a few weeks ago, and already it is my favorite show (in a tie with another of Joss Whedon's shows, Firefly).

Buffy is one of my favorites. I watched it from the very beginning. Never missed an episode. The writing was superb; clever, witty, and always in tune with the nature of the characters. The stories get more and more rich as the seasons progress. Some have given demerits to the later seasons, but to me I experienced quality throughout. A terrific show, with fascinating characters, whether they are good, or bad.

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The show's "supernaturalism" has not bothered me yet. For one thing, the show doesn't take it seriously. There is a scene in which the Master stands in an underground church, and the ground all over Sunnydale is shaking. He says, "Yes! YES! Shake, Earth! This is a sign! We are in the final days! My time has come! Glory! GLORY!." The earthquake ends and he says, "Whadaya think? 5.1?" The creator of the show, Joss Whedon, is an atheist and there are hints in his writing that he thinks the supernatural ridiculous.

[Emphasis added.]

My Objectivist brother is a big fan of the show; a few years ago, he urged me to try it out. I didn't take, mainly for the reason I've emphasized above. I just couldn't get past all the wise-cracking. And I have my share of goofy, very-relaxed moments.

An Objectivist friend alerted me, not long ago, to a Joss-Whedon-helmed movie soon to be released: Serenity. He recommended it because I'm a huge fan of the movie's villain, the brilliant Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things, Melinda Melinda).

If I enjoy Serendipity, I'll rent the first season of Buffy to see what I missed. Very many good people with very good esthetic opinions have good things to say about it.

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Mercury -- you should watch Firefly, which is the television series on which Serenity is based. It is difficult to find in stores on DVD at times, but the Sci-fi channel will be airing it in the Sci-fi Friday line up starting July 15. I was very lucky to see Serenity at a test screening back in April -- it's brilliant. But better enjoyed if you've seen the series (only 13 episodes and not a stinker in the bunch). There aren't any mystical elements in Firefly -- it's science fiction. Hard science fiction at that (no FTL, no sound in space, no aliens either). There is funny (though rarely silly), snappy dialogue but it fits the characters who are all well imagined and wonderfully acted.

I got hooked on Firefly several months ago and just haven't had the time to watch Buffy yet. It is definately on my 'must see' list :D

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It is difficult to find in stores on DVD at times, but the Sci-fi channel will be airing it in the Sci-fi Friday line up starting July 15.

Correction: Firefly will join the Sci-Fi Friday line up starting July 22.

Also, the DVDs are now available at Amazon for only $29.99. Most stores charge upwards of $45 or $50.

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Mercury -- you should watch Firefly, which is the television series on which Serenity is based. It is difficult to find in stores on DVD at times, but the Sci-fi channel will be airing it in the Sci-fi Friday line up starting July 15.  I was very lucky to see Serenity at a test screening back in April -- it's brilliant. But better enjoyed if you've seen the series (only 13 episodes and not a stinker in the bunch). There aren't any mystical elements in Firefly -- it's science fiction. Hard science fiction at that (no FTL, no sound in space, no aliens either). There is funny (though rarely silly), snappy dialogue but it fits the characters who are all well imagined and wonderfully acted.

Thanks very much, Helen. I'll try to get my hands on the DVDs.

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Here's another vote for Firefly. I watched the entire series in a few days after I got the set, via a strong recommendation from an Objectivist who loves the series. My main regret (shared by many) is that, since the series was abruptly terminated, there are many issues left hanging and unresolved. I assume that the movie will help to answer some, or all, of them.

It's really too bad that some of the best science fiction series get prematurely axed (Jeremiah, Crusade, and Firefly are three that come to mind.)

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THE MUSIC

One last comment: Joss Whedon hired several brilliant Romantic composers to write the series' orchestral score. Christophe Beck, in particular, writes beautifully and intriguingly; and there are several other composers almost as talented. I believe Beck wrote the orchestral portions of both the Season 2 and Season 5 finales--probably the series' two most powerful scenes.

But for reasons I'll never understand, for the Main Title "music" [and I'm using that term very loosely] the producer chose something monstrous, a nihilistic assault on the senses. Have your thumb ready to hit the mute button, if you value your ears (not to mention your mind).

Even the Generation-X bands who play at the cockroach-infested "Bronze," are far better than that.

Whedon did, however, choose a deeply moving composition to end the Season 2 finale, as a lonely Buffy, unable to face the loss of her great love, leaves Sunnydale. I've tracked it down. It's a song by Canadian musician Sarah McLachlan, "Full of Grace," from her CD "Surfacing." It's also available for download from MusicMatch. Exquisitely done.

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THE MUSIC

One last comment:  Joss Whedon hired several brilliant Romantic composers to write the series' orchestral score.  Christophe Beck, in particular, writes beautifully and intriguingly; and there are several other composers almost as talented.  I believe Beck wrote the orchestral portions of both the Season 2 and Season 5 finales--probably the series' two most powerful scenes.

Speaking of Buffy's music, there is a famous Buffy episode (from season six, I think) which is written as a musical. It sounds pretty good, from what I have heard of the soundtrack.

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Speaking of Buffy's music, there is a famous Buffy episode (from season six, I think) which is written as a musical. It sounds pretty good, from what I have heard of the soundtrack.

It's Once More, With Feeling. You can find a short synopsis of the episode by clicking on the link. That was actually the episode that got me to start watching the series, because USA Today did a big piece over it, and how all of the actors on the show had no problem singing.

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Serenity looks great. Check out the trailer on the Apple website. Looks like its got some of that great Whedon wit in it. Personally I enjoy Angel quite a lot - the psycho vamp gone dark brooding hero...until he loses his soul. Which he does..frequently :D

My favourite quote from that is when Angel returns from 3 months locked in a chest under the Atlantic (between series) as a result of his son (Connor, a 20 yr old boy who grew up too fast...or should I say, on a different time line) and tells him off (having just thrown him against the wall):

"What you did to me - was unbelievable, Connor. - But then I got stuck in a hell dimension by my girlfriend one time for a hundred years, so three months under the ocean actually gave me perspective. Kind of a M. C. Esher perspective - but I did get time to think. About us, about the world. - Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. - It's harsh, and cruel. - But that's why there's us. Champions. It doesn't matter where we come from, what we've done or suffered, or even if we make a difference. We live as though the world was what it should be, to show it what it can be. - You're not a part of that yet. - I hope you will be. (Angel moves to stand in front of Connor) I love you, Connor. (Quietly, after a beat) Now get out of my house." :D

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I consider this show to be the very best TV show ever made. I previously considered Twilight Zone to hold that title, but Joss's work surpasses that. I have never been so caught up in a show, or been touched so much by the characters and what they go through, and not more so than what happens at the end of season six. It is tremendous.

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I consider this show to be the very best TV show ever made. I previously considered Twilight Zone to hold that title, but Joss's work surpasses that. I have never been so caught up in a show, or been touched so much by the characters and what they go through, and not more so than what happens at the end of season six. It is tremendous.

I posted some thoughts about Buffy here.

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I consider this show to be the very best TV show ever made. I previously considered Twilight Zone to hold that title, but Joss's work surpasses that. I have never been so caught up in a show, or been touched so much by the characters and what they go through, and not more so than what happens at the end of season six. It is tremendous.

I didn't get into Buffy or Angel when they were still on TV, but a year ago I started watching Buffy on DVD. Tonight, after just about a year, I caught the last few episodes of Angel. It was a perfect ending to a Christmas day.

I love the Buffy universe. What a ride. I'll miss it.

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I just noticed that over at Amazon each season can be had, on DVD, for just $19.97 each. That's 50% off. Target's online prices are the same, but I haven't seen the DVDs in stores. Good time to stock up!

And oh yeah, for those who haven't yet caught the quirky humor, here are a few sample quotes from the show:

Buffy: What part of punching you in the face do you not understand?

Willow: You dreamed about Angel again?

Buffy: Third night in a row.

Willow: What did he do in the dream?

Buffy: Stuff.

Willow: Oh. Stuff. Was it one of those vivid dreams where you could feel his lips and smell his hair?

Buffy: It had surround sound. I'm just thinking about him so much lately.

Willow: You two are so right for each other. Except for the uh,

Buffy: Vampire thing.

Cordelia: We came here to do the thing I can never tell my father about because he still thinks I'm a good girl.

Buffy: The rest of you are just waiting for me.

Xander: Well, yeah, but only because you kinda told us to. You're our leader, Buffy, as in "follow the".

Buffy: Well, from now on, I'm your leader as in "do what I say".

Xander: Ja wohl. But let's not try to forget, we're also your friends.

Anya: I'm not.

Buffy: Then why are you here? Aside from getting rescued, what is it that you do?

Anya: I provide much needed... sarcasm.

Xander: Um, that would kinda be my job, actually.

Spike: I'm insane. What's his excuse?

Xander: Being popular isn't so great. Or so I've read in books.

[the gang is fighting a troll]

Anya: How can I help?

Willow: Uh, distract him from Buffy. Uh, p*** him off.

Anya: I don't know how!

Willow: Anya, I have faith in you. There is no one you cannot p*** off.

Willow: I wish Buffy was here!

Buffy: I'm here!

Willow: I wish I had a million dollars!

[everyone stares at her]

Willow: Just checking.

Faith: You can't trust guys.

Buffy: You can trust some guys. Really, I've read about them.

Buffy: I just wanna get my life back, you know? Do normal stuff.

Willow: Like date?

Buffy: Well...

Xander: Aw, you wanna date. I saw that half-smile, you little slut.

[buffy punches him on the arm]

Xander: Ow.

Buffy: All right... yes, date, and hang out and go to school and save the world from unspeakable demons. You know, I wanna do girlie stuff.

Buffy: I can't believe you got into Oxford.

Willow: It's pretty exciting.

Oz: That's some deep academia there.

Buffy: That's where they make Gileses.

Willow: I know. I can learn, and have scones.

Xander: You're considered somewhat cool.

Oz: I am?

Xander: Is it because you always tend to express yourself in short, non-commital sentences?

Oz: Could be.

Buffy: I'm gonna give you all a nice, fun, normal evening if I have to kill every person on the face of the Earth to do it.

Xander: Yay?

Anya: Look, I know you find me attractive. I've seen you looking at my breasts.

Xander: Nothing personal, but when a guy does that, it just means his eyes are open.

Willow: This is so frustrating.

Oz: Nothing useful?

Willow: No, it's great. If we wanna make ferns invisible or communicate with shrimp, I've got the goods right here.

Oz: Our lives are different than other people's.

Willow: When I'm with a boy I like I can't say anything cool, or witty - or at all. I can usually make a few vowel sounds, and then I have to go away.

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