I've dipped into Buffy before -- I saw much of the fifth season and some of the sixth season, in this window of time where I had both a TV and access to the stations that aired it -- and had been intrigued enough to want to see it from the start. It was already clever from said start. It was finding its feet dramatically -- I kept thinking "That couldn't happen unless there were almost no other people around" (really, a lot of times Sunnydale High seems mighty depopulated) -- but I kept being rewarded with the viewing.
And then the show happily surprised me, rewarding me more: I liked how the episode "The Puppet Show" messed with its structure, to throw people off so they wouldn't guess what was really happening. "I did not see that coming," I thought about the reveal of the possessed puppet's real motives, for example. (And that's a sign of confidence: the producers did a show with a possessed ventriloquist's puppet and made it work dramatically and emotionally. That's actually an affecting climax.) And this morning I watched the last two episodes of the first season, "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" and "Prophecy Girl," and remained impressed. For one thing, I really like Clea DuVall -- she was about the only person I liked in The Faculty, and her character in Girl, Interrupted is heartbreaking -- and to have her playing a gone-evil character was vivid. I mean, her character's invisible, and she still makes a strong impression. And her last line -- "Cool" -- is disturbing in context. Nicely disturbing.
And I got a little choked up and emotional at "Prophecy Girl." Poor Willow. Was that episode the first thing Joss Whedon ever directed? Because I like seeing signs that he's developing into an interesting director; I sensed that from the Buffy episode "The Body" and, of course, Serenity. He does good "oh, no" emotion.
I see the seeds of something very, very good here. I see what a lot of you guys see in this show.
So I'm starting to experience something a lot of my fellow geeks have heartily recommended. Thanks for recommending it heartily.
(And one more thing: I'm glad that Buffy got to go somewhere dramatically, by having several more seasons, something that, of course, Whedon's show Firefuly didn't get. Question: Did Whedon and Co. originally hope to get at least one full 22-episode season of Firefly and got cut short by the network? Or was the first season only supposed to have 14 hours' worth of shows?)