TV - Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 1

Buffy season 1

Not previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer... steve harris says Welcome To Sunnydale and remembers the first season of the classic TV show... 

It's 1997, the new millennium is approaching and yet so is Armageddon. Armageddon for Sunnydale. Vampires and ghouls and other icky things will feast upon the flesh of the mortals and only a sixteen year old girl (played by a 21 year old woman), her nerdy friend, her awkward schmuck friend and her growed-up librarian from English land friend can stop them. Oh, and a hot, nice vampire who might not always stay nice even if he will probably stay hot.

Five years after the disappointment that was Buffy The Vampire Slayer the movie - creator Joss Whedon felt the film studio had subverted and undermined his intention to reverse the stereotype of helpless female protagonists needing big, testosteroney men to rescue them from peril. Deadly peril. Perilously deadly peril - five years on, 20th Century Fox went for him making a TV series with a different female lead but the same name and basic premise.

In what may or may never be a look at all seven seasons of Buffy in seven separate articles written in seven separate days, I intend to look at Buffy a lot. The show. I wouldn't want you to think I just want to stare endlessly at Sarah Michelle Gellar (she may have married and changed her name but that makes her less 'mine' so I refuse to even type the words Freddie, Prinz or Junior. Staring endlessly at her would be...oh god it would be awesome...but wrong. So very wrong. Also she might slay me. What a way to go.

Eighteen years later we in the nerd community all know what to expect from Joss Whedon, back then we were pretty new to his skilfully kooky camera angles, his commitment to playing with the rules of lighting a set so that we often barely see our protagonists due to darkness and kooky camera angles, his deft touch with dialogue, his brilliance for ensemble casting (and to think some assumed his Avengers Assemble wouldn't work - duh!), and his genius for switching the onscreen mood from intense emotion to hilarious frivolity in an instant.

Whedon was also a groundbreaker for reasons we now take for granted. His female characters are often apt to kick ass with a courage and tenacity previously only reserved for those testerosterony penis-wearing types. If his female characters don't literally kick ass they kick metaphorical ass with brain skills and heart instead. Story arc - something we almost demand of our long running TV serials now, as Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat will tell you - was less apparent in such shows before Whedon. He put the arc up front and central as a device to increase tension and expand character development across the weeks.

The true genius of Buffy is that within minutes of the first ever episode no one watching is still asking "Vampires and demons, murders and killy-death in a school yet no one closes the school or calls the cops." The characters interact so well and are portrayed so believably that disbelief is utterly suspended. The Buffyverse is where we live too. They're even aware of popular culture in ways that so many other show's characters were previously not and often still aren't. My favourite line of Xander's in season 1 is in the finale when he refers to Giles, the Watcher, as Locutius of The Borg. How's that for admitting other science-fiction shows exist contemporaneously to the one you are in?

"Oh the feeble banter part of the fight..." says The Master when he finally comes face to face with Buffy. If you've ever wondered what to look for when seeking examples of postmodernist traits in pop culture, watch Buffy. The ability to shit people up and to parody the ways in which shitting-people-up movies have shitted people up down the years at the same time, is a subtle art. Whedon is still the best at it.

Ok, here comes my moment of controversy. I like to dress up as a watermelon and shout "Buttocks!" at passing cars. But that's not important right now. My Buffy controversy is probably that I was never the greatest fan of the character Angel and I'm still not. Bastardly good looking git. But he's not very funny. Spike and Drusilla are much better but they're not here yet.

And we're done with controversy because basically even from series one Buffy was one of Fox's greatest ever productions. With time and more seasons the scale simply got bigger but the premise always remained the same - small town, biiiiiiiig trouble that comes with fangs that drip blood. I can and probably will watch Buffy until the end of days and not get bored. Hey, I even fancy Cordelia. Bite me.

Don't literally bite me because then you'd be a vampire and the slayer would have to slay you. But she uses the expression here and there so excuse me for quoting from the stake-flinger.

The Master is the big bad of season one but in a way the hell mouth itself is the persistent big bad. Big bad is another Buffy phrase we now take for granted, Whedon possibly being the first to take a concept from video gaming and recognise how similar TV serials can be to the repeating tropes of pixelated antics.

Did I mention the theme tune by Nerf Herder (the band name itself an excellent science fiction cult reference) is the best theme tune ever apart from the Doctor Who theme? Well now I have. The Breeders version rocks. Of Buffy's theme, not the Doctor Who theme. Bill Bailey's Belgian Jazz version of the Doctor Who theme also rocks but that's not important right now. Hey, see that fourth wall? It just fell down and the audience saw me in my watermelon costume.

Image - Amazon

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