In the first episode, "Welcome to Hellmouth", and its follow-up, "The Harvest" we are introduced to the new Buffy, her mother, her new watcher Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) and her new friends Xander and Willow (Nicholas Brendon and Alyson Hannigan). We also meet glamorous wannabe socialite, Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), who later becomes an unwilling member of "The Scooby Gang" as well as to the evil Master and his "progeny" Darla. Later in the series we are introduced to the vampire with a soul Angel (David Boreanaz) who is key to the first three seasons and later goes on to play in a spin-off series appropriately entitled "Angel". To say much more at this point might potentially ruin the series for anyone who, by some incredible quirk of fate, has not watched it. Despite the literal and figurative darkness of the series, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is not so much horror genre but a "coming of age" drama, the most important feature of the series being the way the characters relate to each other and evolve over time indeed, as someone else put it, it's not so much the vampires that are important, it's the emotional undercurrent. The writers and director also cleverly use some of the show's themes to highlight current day issues; Angel (and much later Willow) can be viewed as metaphors for recovering addicts. The show crosses three genres: horror, coming of age and comedy and because of this is free to exploit a number of opportunities; the comedy one-liners are very, very funny, the relationships are truly interesting and it is set against a classic battle of good versus evil. Every episode features an action scene, they are usually extremely well done with Geller's martial arts skills playing a strong part and, of course, there is some violence but the series is clearly not intended as a gore-fest. As expected by anyone who is familiar with (and a fan of) Whedon's work, the direction of the show is tight and highly focussed; I am told the writing is based on the writer's high-school and college days, reliving their past through the show though I dare say they are more remembering how they would have like to have been rather than how they actually were. Each episode of the season tends to have a story within itself but each episode does not stand alone and, though it's not so apparent in this season, over the entire series the status quo is not necessarily re-established at the end of each episode, the stories and characters are seen to develop along an arc across the who of a given season (and beyond). The first season is more episodic than later ones and, though "Buffy" is first and foremost about a vampire slayer, the season is extremely wide ranging with villains being various types of demon. Not only does the avid watcher have to beware of the events of past episodes (sometimes several seasons in the past) but also vice versa i.e. events in an early shadow will predict events in far later episodes. This is part of what makes the show so special and it is not the first time I have seen it; one of my all-time favourite shows was "Babylon 5" which developed, more seriously and in a single genre, across a five-season arc. For the most part, "Buffy" is not so weighty, not so rigorously restricted to its arc but it still has a long-term development aspect and, interestingly, there is a connection between the two shows as Joss Whedon also wrote some of the material for "Babylon 5". The acting is first rate (gets better still later in the series) and, although they can be a little on the cheesy side especially in the early seasons, the effects are not at all bad as a rule. The relationship between Buffy, her mother and Giles (Buffy's watcher) is probably the most important in the series though Willow and Angel are also key as these are the primary forces shaping her outlook and character. Giles' influence on Buffy develops in later seasons into him becoming an important father figure which naturally sets him up in opposition to her mother. Willow, a geeky computer nerd in the earlier seasons, tends to be Buffy's confidant whilst, despite Xander's best efforts, Angel becomes Buffy's love interest (there is some romance but no overt sex). The series gets more sophisticated later on but it is nevertheless interesting and amusing to revisit the first season to see how the characters started and how much they have changed since then. Like one fan of the series I agree that the best episodes are the pilot episode and its follow-up ("Welcome to Hellmouth" and "The Harvest"), "Angel" and "Prophecy Girl" (mainly because I'm big on vampires) although I was quite fond of the episodes "Teachers Pet" and "The Pack". The video quality of the series is good, arguably better than many other similar series, but obviously not as good as movie style DVD's. The same applies to the sound (it could have been remastered to Dolby 5.1). The music backing the show is, to my mind, one of the truly great aspects of the series favouring a number of college and university-oriented gothic-style groups. In that respect "Buffy" became the one all the other shows based theirs on with music that is little short of exceptional. In this respect the show has had a significant and positive impact on my musical tastes, launching me into a greater appreciation of rock and metal (no mean feat considering I was basically a soul boy at the time) ... I would genuinely like to thank whoever it was that chose the groups. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" has just about everything, it's a high-school "coming-of-age" drama, it's mild horror/action and, most of all, some extremely slick dialogue including some excellent one-line humorous quips. It is an intelligently written show and the acting is some of the best to be seen on TV (in many ways beating even my own personal favourite Babylon 5) and its creator, Joss Whedon, is arguably one of the best TV writers today. In addition to "Buffy", my favourite TV shows, those that I will watch repeatedly, include "Babylon 5", "Firefly" and "Game of Thrones" and it is interesting to note that Joss Whedon wrote and directed the first of those and had significant impact on the second. Even twenty years later (twenty-two actually) the stories, acting and (to a slightly lesser extent) effects in "Buffy" stand up well; to be fair so do the stories in "Babylon 5" even if the effects are somewhat more dated. There was a time when I would have said that "Buffy was the best show on television" but, whilst I'm no longer able to say that, it remains remarkably entertaining, extremely watchable, amusing and relevant. So, even twenty years later, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" Season 1 was a promising start to what became a great series, it had some truly excellent episodes and, if you give it time, you might find you become as addicted as I was (and still am).
Best QuoteMaster: You're dead! Buffy: I may be dead, but I'm still pretty. Which is more than I can say for you.
- The overall score for the show is show as 8 but was actually 7.8 so it was rounded to the nearest full number.
- I have seen reports that a relaunch is planned for 2020 but that none of the original cast are returning. There's some info in the following video: