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TV From The Crypts: Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 1

Hello my blood-lusting, fangbanging followers, I wasn’t kidding when I said earlier this month that I had vampires on the brain. And so this week I revisited what was one of my favorite shows throughout my childhood to bask in more vampire-glory. It’s been a long time since I first encountered Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TV, and so I was all too giddy with joy to watch the series again as a retired story. I only had enough time for season 1 this week, but since there are 7 lovely seasons in my series box set you can be sure I will try to draw this admiration out as long as possible for future posts.

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Now I did originally watch this show in real time when it first aired on the WB Network, but as I was an obnoxious teenager at the time I didn’t have the knowledge then that I do now. And I did not know who Joss Whedon was. I am obviously much more versed now, and by golly I think I love this man. Firefly, The Avengers, and now Shields, Whedon has had his hands in a lot of things that I am obsessed with. And while his more recent and famous work has a lot of masculinity involved, I have to say knowing he was the creator and a producer for Buffy’s TV show builds my esteem of him even higher. Despite the predecessor movie being a bit of a comedy, Whedon kept pestering FOX about his empowering female role until they gave him the show, as he claims he was tired of seeing every cute blonde walk down a dark alley to get murdered.

As I put in disk one from the first season and the opening credits rolled over the screen accompanied by an amazing punk song, I realized I really have missed this show. Growing up in the 90’s, I have to say I was a queen of punk rock and ska, so this music overwhelmed me with nostalgia before the show even started. As I did some researching on the show I was even more astounded to discover that the name of the band that played the theme song was “Nerf Herder”. How fucking cool is that?!?!

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In the first episode we are introduced to Buffy, a perky Sarah Michelle Gellar character that has moved to a new school district in the fictional town of Sunnydale, California after she was expelled from her last school for causing too much violence. How could a cute little blonde girl in a short skirt set her old school’s gymnasium on fire you ask? Well, she is the slayer, and there is almost always a little collateral damage when killing vampires. We quickly learn that in every generation there is a slayer, a person of the female persuasion chosen to fight all that is evil and annihilate as many vampires as possible during her normally shortened lifespan. Buffy is this generation’s slayer, and what is always a little confusing to me is how she was chosen. Hopefully future seasons will remind me, but we find that poor old Buffy has to hide her other occupation from her mom and pretty much everyone else, leading to most people thinking she is a nut job.

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Lucky for Buffy, this new school district has a watcher, a person assigned to guide, teach, and help the slayer in her task. And none other than the wonderful Anthony Stewart Head plays Buffy’s watcher Giles, trying to hide his identity as the nerdy school librarian. And despite her attempts to hide her slayering from other students, we get lucky that Willow and Xander witness her in the act so that they can become some heartfelt side kicks throughout the series. The last important character we are introduced to in the first episode is Angel, a broody yet steaming-hot vampire that falls in love with Buffy (and let’s face it, most of us female viewers fall in love with him).

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It turns out Buffy’s new school district was probably not a random choice, as it happens to be located directly over a Hellmouth, an area where dark powers and evil villains are drawn to. This of course makes it easy to explain why teenager after teenager are murdered by various monsters each episode, but why the citizens of Sunnydale tolerate it I still don’t understand.

Now most of the episodes in season 1 are stand alone, so you can just jump in wherever you like and enjoy 40 minutes of encounters with various monsters. I think the only hard part for me watching this amazing show a second time was now, almost 20 years later, I have much higher expectations for special effects. Since this show was initially made in 1997, the CGI was rather limited, and a lot of the monsters it spotlights are created with good old fashioned makeup and costumes. So some of the episodes are a little harder to believe with our present day spoiled eyes. And the vampires might possess super strength, but don’t typically have the blurring superior speed we are used to with more recent vampire footage.

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Some of the episodes stray away from vampires, which in my opinion tend to be the weaker episodes, but it gives us our fair share of monsters. An incredibly corny episode deals with a praying mantis female that seduces virgin teenage boys, including our beloved Xander, so that she can mate with them only to eat their heads while she uses their man juice to fertilize her eggs. Another comical episode that actually grew on me by the end was about a group of mystical hyenas that were recently imported from Africa to the local zoo where they spiritually possessed a group of obnoxious bullies, and sadly for him Xander as well. Now at first this group of unruly, crazed teens just started out by picking on weaklings and laughing hysterically (aka the “laughing hyenas”, hardy har-har, so creative). However, as these kids delved deeper in to their possession they actually started acting like animals, and as cheesy as it sounds they did a creepy job with it, eating the principle and all, and lounging around afterwards like a group of bloated and digesting predators.

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But the most superior episodes of season 1 are those that stick with the slayer theme and deal with vampires, especially when Angel is involved. One of many common themes we encounter with vampires is The Master’s attempt to get out of his prison below the earth by murdering Buffy. The Master is a leader of vampires that was accidentally trapped inside an underground cavern while he inappropriately tried to open the Hellmouth’s contents on the earth, but prophecies say that he can escape and successfully open the Hellmouth if he can drain Buffy of her life force. Trying not to spoil too much for you deprived individuals who have not watched this show yet, I will tell you that he succeeds in the last episode. Only Buffy’s friends know CPR, and our resuscitated Buddy leaves things on a new kick-ass level. While I got a little tired of villainous witches, evil manaquins, and other bizarre monsters towards the end of season 1, I was delightfully surprised that our newly reanimated Buffy seems to pack a better roundhouse than the version of her in the beginning of the season. It has left me excited to venture in to season 2.

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Posted on October 22, 2013, in TV, TV From the Crypts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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