Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. NOW I get it.

I'm now one season into my viewing of the entire series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Today I'll return the Season One DVDs to the library so the next person can borrow and appreciate it.

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. I am intrigued by its ideas and wish to subscribe to its newsletter okay, Chris, that's taking it a little far. But I like Buffy's real-world-but-still-soap-opera-y quality, where even an antagonist like Cordelia (and later, of course, Spike) shows unexpected depth. The good guys are trying to be good but not always 100% succeeding; the bad guys and the almost-bad-guys can be understood and sometimes honorable; and all of this doesn't feel like dramatic change for the sake of dramatic change. The show makers didn't seem to be going "Oh! We'll suddenly make this character good and that character evil!"

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?)
Tags: firefly/whedon

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